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Chapter 15 AUNT POLLY TAKES ALARM

  • Pollyanna had been at home about a week when the letter from Della Wetherb_ame to Mrs. Chilton.
  • "I wish I could make you see what your little niece has done for my sister,"
  • wrote Miss Wetherby; "but I'm afraid I can't. You would have to know what sh_as before. You did see her, to be sure, and perhaps you saw something of th_ush and gloom in which she has shrouded herself for so many years. But yo_an have no conception of her bitterness of heart, her lack of aim an_nterest, her insistence upon eternal mourning.
  • "Then came Pollyanna. Probably I didn't tell you, but my sister regretted he_romise to take the child, almost the minute it was given; and she made th_tern stipulation that the moment Pollyanna began to preach, back she shoul_ome to me. Well, she hasn't preached—at least, my sister says she hasn't; an_y sister ought to know. And yet—well, just let me tell you what I found whe_ went to see her yesterday. Perhaps nothing else could give you a better ide_f what that wonderful little Pollyanna of yours has accomplished.
  • "To begin with, as I approached the house, I saw that nearly all the shade_ere up: they used to be down—'way down to the sill. The minute I stepped int_he hall I heard music—Parsifal. The drawing-rooms were open, and the air wa_weet with roses.
  • "'Mrs. Carew and Master Jamie are in the music-room,' said the maid. And ther_ found them—my sister, and the youth she has taken into her home, listenin_o one of those modern contrivances that can hold an entire opera company,
  • including the orchestra.
  • "The boy was in a wheel chair. He was pale, but plainly beatifically happy. M_ister looked ten years younger. Her usually colorless cheeks showed a fain_ink, and her eyes glowed and sparkled. A little later, after I had talked _ew minutes with the boy, my sister and I went up-stairs to her own rooms; an_here she talked to me—of Jamie. Not of the old Jamie, as she used to, wit_ear-wet eyes and hopeless sighs, but of the new Jamie—and there were no sigh_or tears now. There was, instead, the eagerness of enthusiastic interest.
  • "'Della, he's wonderful,' she began. 'Everything that is best in music, art,
  • and literature seems to appeal to him in a perfectly marvelous fashion, only,
  • of course, he needs development and training. That's what I'm going to se_hat he gets. A tutor is coming to-morrow. Of course his language is somethin_wful; at the same time, he has read so many good books that his vocabulary i_uite amazing—and you should hear the stories he can reel off! Of course i_eneral education he is very deficient; but he's eager to learn, so that wil_oon be remedied. He loves music, and I shall give him what training in tha_e wishes. I have already put in a stock of carefully selected records. I wis_ou could have seen his face when he first heard that Holy Grail music. H_nows all about King Arthur and his Round Table, and he prattles of knight_nd lords and ladies as you and I do of the members of our own family—onl_ometimes I don't know whether his Sir Lancelot means the ancient knight or _quirrel in the Public Garden. And, Della, I believe he can be made to walk.
  • I'm going to have Dr. Ames see him, anyway, and—'
  • "And so on and on she talked, while I sat amazed and tongue-tied, but, oh, s_appy! I tell you all this, dear Mrs. Chilton, so you can see for yourself ho_nterested she is, how eagerly she is going to watch this boy's growth an_evelopment, and how, in spite of herself, it is all going to change he_ttitude toward life. She CAN'T do what she is doing for this boy, Jamie, an_ot do for herself at the same time. Never again, I believe, will she be th_oured, morose woman she was before. And it's all because of Pollyanna.
  • "Pollyanna! Dear child—and the best part of it is, she is so unconscious o_he whole thing. I don't believe even my sister yet quite realizes what i_aking place within her own heart and life, and certainly Pollyann_oesn't—least of all does she realize the part she played in the change.
  • "And now, dear Mrs. Chilton, how can I thank you? I know I can't; so I'm no_ven going to try. Yet in your heart I believe you know how grateful I am t_oth you and Pollyanna.
  • "DELLA WETHERBY."
  • "Well, it seems to have worked a cure, all right," smiled Dr. Chilton, whe_is wife had finished reading the letter to him.
  • To his surprise she lifted a quick, remonstrative hand.
  • "Thomas, don't, please!" she begged.
  • "Why, Polly, what's the matter? Aren't you glad that—that the medicin_orked?"
  • Mrs. Chilton dropped despairingly back in her chair.
  • "There you go again, Thomas," she sighed. "Of COURSE I'm glad that thi_isguided woman has forsaken the error of her ways and found that she can b_f use to some one. And of course I'm glad that Pollyanna did it. But I am no_lad to have that child continually spoken of as if she were a—a bottle o_edicine, or a 'cure.' Don't you see?"
  • "Nonsense! After all, where's the harm? I've called Pollyanna a tonic eve_ince I knew her."
  • "Harm! Thomas Chilton, that child is growing older every day. Do you want t_poil her? Thus far she has been utterly unconscious of her extraordinar_ower. And therein lies the secret of her success. The minute she CONSCIOUSL_ets herself to reform somebody, you know as well as I do that she will b_imply impossible. Consequently, Heaven forbid that she ever gets it into he_ead that she's anything like a cure-all for poor, sick, suffering humanity."
  • "Nonsense! I wouldn't worry," laughed the doctor.
  • "But I do worry, Thomas."
  • "But, Polly, think of what she's done," argued the doctor. "Think of Mrs. Sno_nd John Pendleton, and quantities of others—why, they're not the same peopl_t all that they used to be, any more than Mrs. Carew is. And Pollyanna did d_t—bless her heart!"
  • "I know she did," nodded Mrs. Polly Chilton, emphatically. "But I don't wan_ollyanna to know she did it! Oh, of course she knows it, in a way. She know_he taught them to play the glad game with her, and that they are lots happie_n consequence. And that's all right. It's a game—HER game, and they'r_laying it together. To you I will admit that Pollyanna has preached to us on_f the most powerful sermons I ever heard; but the minute SHE knows it—well, _on't want her to. That's all. And right now let me tell you that I've decide_hat I will go to Germany with you this fall. At first I thought I wouldn't. _idn't want to leave Pollyanna—and I'm not going to leave her now. I'm goin_o take her with me."
  • "Take her with us? Good! Why not?"
  • "I've got to. That's all. Furthermore, I should be glad to plan to stay a fe_ears, just as you said you'd like to. I want to get Pollyanna away, quit_way from Beldingsville for a while. I'd like to keep her sweet and unspoiled,
  • if I can. And she shall not get silly notions into her head if I can hel_yself. Why, Thomas Chilton, do we want that child made an insufferable littl_rig?"
  • "We certainly don't," laughed the doctor. "But, for that matter, I don'_elieve anything or anybody could make her so. However, this Germany ide_uits me to a T. You know I didn't want to come away when I did—if it hadn'_een for Pollyanna. So the sooner we get back there the better I'm satisfied.
  • And I'd like to stay—for a little practice, as well as study."
  • "Then that's settled." And Aunt Polly gave a satisfied sigh.